Quick Sketches of 2012 NFL Draft RBs


I love this class of running backs. It's quite deep at the top. The depth, the atrophied love for backs by fans and GMs alike serve up a nice opportunity for really good value, should the draft flow that way.

The kind of commitment to the run that Seattle has, not just in snaps but really in offensive philosophy, exacerbates the need for depth at the position. We've heard that Seattle would not be averse to taking 2 QBs in the draft, if 2 they liked were available -- prior to the Matt Flynn signing, anyway. Well, not that I'm particularly endorsing it, but it would not be unwise for Seattle to take two backs.

Should the draft flow that way.

There are a couple handfuls of worthy prospects here. There is no realistic 1st round option for Seattle because Trent Richardson will not be available. He truly is set apart from the other runners and it doesn't take much tape to realize this. So I won't take the time to sketch him, per say, but he serves as a good calibration reference. Check him out a bit, if you like, witness why 27 million uttered "fungibles" and 16 million muttered "passing leagues" won't stop him from being draft in the first 8 picks, and you'll have a nice profile of a complete and physical back who will run amongst the best in the league looks like. Then you'll be ready to survey Seattle's options.

I'm just going to order them according to my preferences. I enjoy doing deep and substantial tape study, though I have less and less time for it, but I don't enjoy breaking down play-by-play and articulating what I observed so much. I try to read it when others devote hours and hours of precious time for our benefit, but honestly I find it does little for me. It's hard to calibrate what & how I observe, how I judge, what I like, what matters less to me, etc., compared to another amateur scout.

Ultimately we're all stuck in Plato's Cave, and reading a description of what happened in a play is even less meaningful for running backs. It's not what happened, but how it happened.

So my film study posts tend to be a lot more subjective than others'. I present my observations and takeaways, framed and supported with substance. I'm not the type to offer up valuable information for you to decide yourself. But I'll post some of the more pertinent videos for these guys, and that way you can decide for yourself if you like.

Lamar Miller
I like Lamar a lot. He's my "underrated prospect" of the draft. I like this tape against Boston College because it also shows you in a nutshell why Kuechly 12th overall is a little bit crazy in the head. Miller's a total zone runner. Breakaway speed, which won't be breakaway in the pros, but still holds a lot of value, to capitalize once he reaches the second level, and because he can turn on that 3rd gear and reach that top speed so quickly.

But what I like are the angles. Previously I've contended the most useful skills for a changeup back to Marshawn Lynch would be a scat/moves back. Miller is not that. But he's ideal for Seattle. A willing blocker, an OK receiver, Miller has a good sense for taking the right crease inside. Without hesitation. With the speed and the angles, he reminds me a bit of Leon Washington, except that Miller strikes me as having better ability to get past the line inside.

What I don't like is the lethargic lateral speed. Marshawn's decisions, anticipation and cravings for contact keep him from getting around the edge much, but he's got top-notch lateral movement. On the other hand Miller seems to consider stretching it wide, but just doesn't beat the LBs to the edge to be able to make something of it. So we'd be a team lacking an outside threat, pragmatically two inside runners.

But Miller doesn't seem to be standing out from the crowd for anyone else, so he should be available in the 2nd round for Seattle, and I'd consider it good value. He's 20 years old.

Isaiah Pead
In the mold of Miller, but smaller, underwhelming choice of cuts on the inside, and just less physical. He's got the speed, acceleration, and both moves and angles, so it's fairly tantalizing, but he also faced lesser competition and I must confess gauging backs' effectiveness against stouter competition is very difficult.

He'd never be more than a changeup scat back due to his size. It's like a Big East version of Reggie Bush. On the other hand, he can threaten the edge and make guys miss a number of ways. It's just a matter of getting him into space, which is easier said than done. Pead worked with a lot of large rushing lanes. So I dunno; if all we want is a complimentary back, Pead could add some dimensions that are lacking, better than the other guys here. I don't like that kind of return from the early 2nd round, but as a back I like him better than the others. Pead is 22.

Chris Polk
A few of you might have heard of him. Polk's got pro-calibre size and physicality. He's a complete back with moves, for his size. Speed is not what sets him apart but he's not lacking. Some of it is his running style. He does a lot with shifting direction and using defenders' pursuit angles against them. It's great, and it has worked in the NFL, but it's a warning sign. I firmly believe he will find success in the pros. But that kind of running style can hamper backs' effectiveness at the next level. It even has hampered Marshawn's effectiveness, consistently.

I'd like to see better cuts, he loses some momentum in the bigger cuts and once again we have a guy who would not do a lot to threaten the edge. But he'd fit the physicality that they want out of this offense.

I like his confidence. He'd be a fan favorite. I didn't post the tape against Baylor because come on. But the Nebraska tape: hey that Lavonte David kid looks pretty good. Polk is 22.

Doug Martin
I don't see Martin threatening the late 1st round. He's just not talented enough and there are too many other options. The depth of other positions run out sooner and there's a lot of good backs. But Doug is easy to root for. His effort is highly visible in his running. He won't back down from contact. He's got moves, and he really gets the role of a back in a passing game. Pro size, good build. Adequate speed and vision. Takes too much movement and time to get up to the speed that he does have, he plays slower than that by using too many moves. Although sometimes he makes great use of the backfield behind the line to get up to speed. He finishes his runs, and can make more out of a bad run. But that's not the kind of thing I like to count on. Doug's 23.

David Wilson
I'm not a big Wilson fan. He's small but he runs with a lot of length. High knees, lethargic cuts. The kind of concerns you had about Brandon Browner's height impeding his ability to play corner? It's like that with Wilson, even though he's one of the smallest backs in the draft (5'10", barely above 200 lbs). I don't know why. Not shifty enough for his size, to me. I wouldn't call him a North-South runner, but in terms of running skill he honestly doesn't have that much more to offer. He makes questionable decisions, his highlight reels are full of them. I just don't think his top speed will feature much at all in the pros because he's got a long get-up. He's 21.

Robert Turbin
Another pro size back, sort of a man among boys at Utah state, but more level competition here vs. Boise St. I need to see more of him to be sure, because of the conference he played in. Can do a lot once he gets going but I suspect that might not materialize often in the pros. Runs risky, carries the ball like he'll lose a dozen fumbles a year. Has moves for his size, but the decision-making doesn't seem great. If I see more of him I could like him more than Wilson, but I doubt I'll like him more than that.

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